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Eckhard Zeidler

Seeking the green chair on council


Name: Eckhard Zeidler

Age: 49

Website: www.eckhardzeidler.ca

Occupation: Designer and owner, Z-Point Graphics.

Last book read: I tend to read more than one book at a time — Marq De Villiers - Water, The Fate Of Our Most Precious Resource & Madelaine Drohan - Making A Killing - How And Why Corporations Use Armed Force To Do Business.

What music are you listening too these days: String Cheese Incident, Dave Matthews Band, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band.

Favourite recreational pursuits: Hiking, skiing and full body contact rock gardening.

1. Why are you running for council?

There is a green chair on Whistler council that is supported by this community and if folks vote for me hopefully it’s because my experience, knowledge and track record makes me best suited for that environmental chair. My background in investment banking and business makes me one tree hugger that can work productively with a business-focused council.

2. What are the biggest issues facing Whistler?

2.1. The Canadian dollar is rising relentlessly against the US dollar.

2.2. We are continuing to build more than we need at a time when its uncertain whether our economy will start growing at a rapid pace any time soon.

2.3. Taxpayers potentially getting burdened with debt related to Olympics and the needs of others.

2.4. Growth outside our boundaries and pending discussions and negotiations on the future of the lands surrounding Whistler.

3. What needs to be done to address those issues?

3.1. If we improve tourism value 5 per cent a year and the dollar gains 5 per cent a year we're just standing still. We can't reverse the dollar rise but we have a bright economic future if we are honest about that economic reality and use our imaginations and experience to explore and implement improved value and a broadening of our tourism economy including culture and education. Quick fix solutions won't get us back to the "glory days." There is a fantastic opportunity with 2010 to send an optimistic and positive message worldwide that we are leaders, and that we offer much more than one would expect from a ski/board resort, in all seasons. It's a fortune in free advertising for a new tourism/education product – sustainability training.

3.2. We need to take a serious breather in growth. There's a ton of development in the works leading up to the Olympics. If we keep on expanding we'll never resolve the nagging resident housing issue. The opportunity exists to meet the needs of qualified residents who want to plan a future here and not just plan their exit strategies – if we acknowledge that the major growth economy is behind us.

3.3. Existing council has left our future with a doozy of a legacy – a blank check signed by Whistler taxpayers for the village arena financial shortfall. Potential debt to the community will be in the thousands for every man woman and child in this valley, and we don't know how much not even including ongoing operations and maintenance costs. What about these legacies? Can they ever make any money? Will they be a burden? The physical legacies will be built and various costs will be shoved around but I intend to defend the taxpayer. We should not wake up in 2011 wondering why we ended up with huge debts and costs. Let's have a great Olympics, without a financial hangover by monitoring and keeping the public informed about actual and forecasted capital, operational and maintenance costs. That has to start immediately.

3.4. The Whistler Protected Areas Network and community forest application have to be finalized. The Rainbow recreation area has to be negotiated with the province quickly. Conservation initiatives in the Callaghan and Soo valleys need to be resolved. Put all these initiatives together and it says to the SLRD, the province and the developers that we had a vision for our natural surroundings and we made that vision real. A solid plan is our best argument against massive development directly in our backyard. Council needs to understand theses dynamics and commit to resolving them.

4. How will Whistler 2020 help us?

The document encompasses who we are and how we see ourselves in the future. The directions in the document are rock solid. Planning is behind us for the time being, now it is time to execute that plan. The blended future population projects just under 15,000 people living here by 2020, I'm not convinced we have to grow another 50 per cent bigger in order to be sustainable, I think that is still open for discussion.

5. Name three things you expect to accomplish in this council’s term.

1.To have worked respectfully and productively on a council that did not burden taxpayers with new debt or liabilities.

2.That the RMOW and community understands that we cannot grow our way out of already having built too much.

3. Finalize urgent land use planning issues in and immediately surrounding Whistler and keep fringe development in check.

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